It’s pretty much an open secret by now that EMC is getting ready to refresh its Clariion midrange disk arrays this month. Among the details leaked so far about what the new product will contain is the suggestion it will support NFS and CIFS, signaling the beginning of a consolidation of Clariion and the Celerra NAS platforms.
But another detail offered by an industry source earlier this week caught my eye and rang a bell when it comes to this announcement —
Deeper integration with VMware — “integration not available elsewhere,” according to one source – is supposedly a big feature of the new Clariion. EMC will apparently play up storage virtualization as well, although it’s unclear yet what new virtualization features will be included.
That’s when I remembered something I came across at EMC World two years ago, in an exhibit on the show floor called the Innovation Showcase. Among the product sneak previews I noted at the time:
Senior consulting software engineer Sorin Faibish was showing off his own diagram of “Application-Aware Intelligent Storage.” This would combine artificial intelligence software capable of being “trained” with hardware-embedded VMware ESX servers to automatically spawn services like data migration, encryption and replication to data as it comes into the cache on a storage array. The embedded ESX host would run EMC’s RecoverPoint CDP inside, logging and catalogging I/O, indexing data for input into a modeling engine, which would then decide on the proper way to store and protect the data before flushing it to disk.
No time frame was given on any of the prototypes.
Just something to ponder while we’re all waiting for a press release.
The new offering is based on the company’s acquisition of data classification company Avalere in 2007, and Iron Mountain first released it to customers at the end of 2009. Iron Mountain plans to integrate Connected Classify & Collect with Iron Mountain’s other cloud data storage services, LiveVault and Virtual File Store (VFS), although the vendor has given no timeframe for that yet.
Data collection on corporate PCs is one of the thorniest areas in e-discovery, according to analysts. Iron Mountain claims pre-classifying data will lead to more comprehensive e-discovery searches. “We’ve come to realize that Connected can be more accurate than file shares or impounding employee laptops,” Iron Mountain Digital director of product management David Asher told SearchDataBackup last year. “By the time laptops are impounded, an employee may have had days to delete data.”
Two storage-focused equipment distributors converged today as Bell Micro agreed to be acquired by Avnet for $594 million, $342 million of which will go to pay off Bell Micro’s debts.
The impact of this announcement is mainly being felt in the IT channel, with speculation in the industry focused on whether this move for Avnet is a means of lessening its dependence on Sun hardware products after Oracle said in January it would take Sun’s largest customers direct.
Enterprise Strategy Group founder and president Steve Duplessie blogged this morning that he doesn’t see the distribution market expanding again any time soon:
[T]here used to be a ton of big distributors, but they don’t seem to be around anymore–besides Avnet. Bell was a $3B giant, but just agreed to get purchased by Avnet for only $250M or so (net of debt). That’s one small multiple, which tells me you probably don’t want to be in the distribution business. Any business that requires outrageous capital, offers huge risk, and only has a shot of giving back fractions of a penny on revenue ain’t a business for me…In many ways, the distribution game has changed such that it seems impossible for anyone to get in at this point. It takes so much money and expertise to build up logistics and inventory management systems–who could possibly enter and make a run at it?
But he isn’t sure whether the deal will have much of an effect on pricing for storage end users, since manufacturers and not distributors tend to have more of an effect on pricing.
According to StorageIO founder and analyst Greg Schulz, “for the storage end user [this merge] should have little impact as [end users] buy from the VARs. The distributors like Bell, Ingram, Techdata, Avnet, Synex, and Arrow are the suppliers to the VARs on behalf of the manufacturers.”
The storage Twitter-sphere was abuzz this morning with reports from bloggers attending HP’s Storage Day, an event for end-user and partner bloggers to hear about HP’s vision for storage.
Among those tweets a familiar name began to pop up: Tom Joyce, whom I first met when he was working in product marketing for EMC Corp. Joyce left EMC and was appointed CEO of Akorri Inc. in 2007; he left Akorri for Stratus in 2009 but has now resurfaced in HP’s StorageWorks division. An HP spokesperson confirmed this morning that Joyce joined the HP StorageWorks group as its vice president of marketing in late February.
Joyce joins HP in the wake of last year’s high-profile defection of former EMC storage division head David Donatelli to HP, where he serves as EVP of servers, storage and networking.
Joyce joins Patrick Eitenbichler in HP’s StorageWorks division. According to Eitenbichler’s LinkedIn profile, he is now director of marketing for HP Software. An HP spokesperson wrote in an email to Storage Soup today that there have been “no other [executive] changes I’m aware of.”
Is EMC merging its Clariion SAN and Celerra NAS platforms or not? EMC president of information infrastructure products Pat Gelsinger discussed that topic with financial analysts today, and refused to tip his hand either way.
Gelsinger spoke about driving synergies between the midrange Clariion and Symmetrix enterprise SAN platforms during a webcast with analysts to discuss EMC technology. When asked why EMC isn’t merging Clariion and Symmetrix and that it’s “well known” that it is merging the Clariion and Celerra, Gelsinger said that was just rumor at this stage. He didn’t deny that convergence was coming either, though.
“I would point out on the Celerra and Clariion lines, there are wide rumors in the industry about our product strategy in those areas, but we haven’t made any public statements,” Gelsinger said. “Our plans are, we’re going to continue to carry forward the Clariion customers, we’re going to continue to carry forward the Celerra customers. There are opportunities for simplification in those product lines and more effective use for those products, but we haven’t laid out specific product strategies or brand strategies in either of those areas.”
For the record, Gelsinger’s answer on why not merge Clariion and Symmetrix was, “I haven’t said we will or we won’t.”
Rumors of convergence between Clariion and Celerra have been spreading for months. They were so strong in February that EMC issued denial. Now the convergence talk has started up again ahead of an expected Clariion upgrade launch. Many will probably take Gelsinger’s statement as more of a confirmation of a merger than a denial, but it appears that EMC is trying to keep the platforms separate for now.
Dell’s decision to begin branding Celerra makes the timing curious for platform convergence. Dell already sells Clariion, so why brand Celerra as a separate system if EMC is merging them soon?
EMC watchers are well aware the vendor is due for a Clariion refresh, and industry sources say that is coming early next month.
Sources say details on the next generation Clariion will be disclosed in April with the systems going GA in June although some features won’t make it until the fall.
Deeper integration with VMware — “integration not available elsewhere,” according to one source – is supposedly a big feature of the new Clariion. EMC will apparently play up storage virtualization as well, although it’s unclear yet what new virtualization features will be included. Another improvement is easier upgrades of disk shelves, controllers, firmware, core OS, array-based software, and so on.
But perhaps the most interesting thing to watch will be whether EMC adds support for NFS and CIFS, as some expect. This would be the next step in integrating Clariion and EMC’s Celerra unified storage. EMC isn’t ready to end-of-life Celerra yet, but the new Clariion could be confirmation that it is going in that direction. Sources say the vendor already has a name for the new converged system — EMC V-CX.
Editor’s note: After this blog was initially published, Atrato alerted us to a misunderstanding about the GA date of certain features. The corrected text is below.
Self-healing array maker Atrato Inc. is finally making updating its support for solid-state drives and automated tiered storage generally available, a year after it first promised them.
Atrato issued a press release announcing general availability of new SSD units and automated tiered storage software Wednesday, after going back to the drawing board a few times a series of incremental releases following last year’s similar announcement, according to vice president of marketing Bill Mottram.
Atrato originally aimed for released SSD support last May, “but there was more complexity involved in the product than we anticipated,” Mottram said. Atrato’s hybrid VLUN, which spans across solid-state and spinning disks required some tweaks for performance, including a new feature being released this week called “I/O reforming,” which takes blocks of multiple sizes and bundles them into a fixed block size of 256 KB. Mottram said this speeds up moves between SSD and HDD tiers.
Atrato’s arrays are constructed out of enclosures stacked into what it calls a Self-maintaining Array of Identical Disks (SAID). These enclosures, which previously held 10 disks each, are now available with room for 24 drives. Atrato’s SSD enclosure holds 10 or 24 drives, and it now offers multiple configuration options depending on the level of performance or capacity needed.
The updated Velocity 1000 will also support up to four SSD enclosures, whereas last year support was announced for one.
Last year Atrato said it would support Intel’s X-25 E and X-25 M SLC and MLC drives, but now says it will only support the SLC version, as well as 150 GB drives from Pliant on customer request.
A redesign of the V1000 backplane has also boosted Atrato’s performance benchmark claims for the array from 16,000 IOPS to 24,000 IOPS. “It has to do with how we move data within the SAID,” Mottram said, declining to disclose further technical detail.
One feature Atrato customers have asked for, a graphical user interface (GUI) to control the box, remains a roadmap item but should be released toward the end of next month, Mottram said. Until then, the V1000 will continue to be managed through a command-line interface (CLI).
Dell is trying to stay vendor neutral in its data deduplication strategy, which isn’t always easy to do when partnering with data deduplication backup rivals EMC, CommVault and Symantec.
The acrimony between CommVault and Data Domain began when CommVault added its data deduplication to its Simpana 8 data backup software, and the former partners quickly became competitors. Those fires were stoked by statements from former Data Domain CEO and current EMC Corp. data backup and recovery division president Frank Slootman following EMC’s acquisition of Data Domain last year. CommVault responded with some strong statements of its own.
Now, both are vying to put their partnerships with Dell front and center. CommVault has added snapshot integration with Dell’s EqualLogic iSCSI arrays similar to that it first announced for NetApp FAS filers and EMC Clariion, Celerra and Symmetrix disk arrays last year. The feature, called SnapBackup, allows array-based snapshots to be managed according to Simpana policies and through Simpana’s catalog. SnapBackup licenses are $4,000 per protected application server; users with the software already in place will be able to add EqualLogic support at no additional cost.
Dell also disclosed today that it will sell Data Domain data deduplication systems as the Dell/EMC DD140, DD610 and DD630 models. The DD140 is for remote offices, while the DD600 models are for midrange and small enterprises. Dell also sells a DL2100 Powered by CommVault Simpana 8 and another powered by Symantec’s Backup Exec 2010 with deduplication.
For its part, Dell is attempting to position the 2100 and Data Domain boxes as targeting different audiences, but not everyone sees it that way — Forrester Research analyst Andrew Reichman described what he saw as “an emerging battle because the two impinge on each other’s value proposition.”
CommVault officials, meanwhile, point out that their product already competes with others in the Dell portfolio, as well as with Dell itself in some cases. “Dell sells a lot of products and we compete with a lot of those products inside Dell distribution, and we continue to win,” said CommVault vice president of marketing Dave West. “Our business has grown through changes and will continue to grow — we’re not concerned about it.”
Added CommVault director of corporate communications Dani Kenison, “We announced an expansion of our relationship with Dell [through the DL2100] way in advance of Data Domain. Being ahead of the game speaks volumes about the strength of our relationship.”
CommVault bills its DL2000 series joint products with Dell as “a centralized data protection engine,” as CommVault senior product manager Don Foster put it. “Customers truly have a platform instead of just another appliance put into the environment,” he said.